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2010 Chateau Bizard Montagne de Raucoule
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- Cellar 4 - 5 years (2016-2017)
- ABV 14%
- Closure: Cork
Long term surveyors of the Rhone viticultural landscape are ranking the 2010 vintage alongside 1990, others drawing comparisons to 1978. Regardless, the consensus that these are three of THE top vintages in modern times is not up for dispute. If you enjoyed the 2009s, the 2010 wines embody their ripeness and concentration, but add more freshness and acidity to the mix, overall slightly elevated alcohols (some special cuvees rising up to 16.5%)! and ripe, balanced tannins for good mid to long term cellaring. Growers tended to keep fruit on the vine until the phenolics, of which tannins are some of the most important, were fully ripe, specifically to avoid the overly drying tannins some commentators disparaged in 2009. Here is Robert Parker commenting, undoubtedly one of the world authorities on the Rhone (such is his passion for the region, he has now divvied up the Wine Advocate to other writers, himself choosing purely to focus on this part of France, as well as Bordeaux). “As I predicted last year in Issue 197, 2010 is a great vintage that is extremely close in quality to 2007. The wines are not as exuberant, flamboyant or unctuously textured as the top 2007s, but they have the advantage of being slightly more delineated/ focused with greater freshness. They are just as high in alcohol as the 2007s, but the fermentations of the 2010s were easier, and the wines come across as having slightly higher acids. The downside is that after abundant crops in 2007 and 2009, the 2010 harvest was tiny, largely because the Grenache crop had significant losses due to problems during and after the flowering. It was down by 30-40%, which has made the production levels of most of the Grenache dominated wines much smaller than normal”. This last point was the only potential downside (for producers) and one might have expected some significant price increases passed on to consumers. It would be justified. In fact, the crop level was reduced by coulure (fruit not developing from flowers) to one of the lowest in recent memory. While Grenache suffered from cold weather in June, Syrah (Shiraz), Carignan and Mourvedre were ‘able replacements.’ Even the Cinsault was of the highest order. The fabulous quality and foreseeable potential of the 2010 vintage in the Rhone has been acknowledged world-wide and so the wines are being snapped up at an unprecedented rate. What will make it into Australia is uncertain. But then, choosing from a vintage like this should be akin to shooting fish in a barrel. Chateau Bizard takes our focus further north than usual, with three exceptional buys from little known Coteaux du Tricastin, (recently renamed Grignan-Les-Adhemer) in fact the northernmost winegrowing AOC of the Southern Rhone, “... better known for its gorgeous black truffles than high quality wines,' according to Parker. He does note one exception to this rule: Chateau Bizard.
Established in 1862, it is located in Allan, fairly close to the Rhone river corridor, just south of Montelimar, in the centre of a natural amphitheater delimited by the Montagne de Raucoule, La Grangette and the Serre de Courrent ranges. The area benefits from the Mistral wind, which wards off any vine disease and also moderates heat. Parker has summed up Bizard's wines as 'remarkable values... delicious, fruit-forward reds that sell for a song.' We shipped the 2009 wines from this estate and they hit the bulls eye then for undervalued early drinking pleasure. 2010 is right on target, but with more substance and structure in the wines for extended cellaring - wines to get you through the dearth of 2011 Australian reds and beyond with minimal outlay. And once again, we've dealt directly with the winery to ensure just that.
As the northernmost appellation of the Southern Rhone, the Cotes du Tricastin offers the perfect field for understanding how Syrah (Shiraz) and Grenache behave smack bang in the middle of the Rhone valley. Travel a few miles north, and you're in Syrah stronghold. Move several miles south, and Grenache is king. It's no surprise vignerons have been roused by this viticultural tipping point. Set within a natural amphitheater, the owners of Chateau Bizard have exploited the wealth of possibilities offered by the surrounding hills. Named after their respective locations on these slopes, the philosophies behind their three cuvees differ slightly. The Montagne de Raucoule, to the south of the estate, culminates at 392 m. There again, the south facing exposure was the preferred choice, overlooking the Rhone river, but this time with both Grenache and Syrah represented in equal parts. The Montagne de Raucoule is easier to pigeonhole as a Southern Rhone classic, although here, the winemaker's Burgundian origins are also evident. Deciding for a cold soaking of the grapes, which usually allows for a gentle extraction of aromas, colour and finer structure, this is a terrific example of the kind of sophistication that the region is capable of for an 'entry level' price. Other Reviews….
Composed of equal parts Grenache and Syrah. Opaque black purple colour with deep dark purple hue. The nose displays pronounced black cherry and black raspberry scents followed by some liquorice with a meaty earth like overlay. The palate possesses liqueur like richness and concentration with mouthfilling flavours of black raspberry and liquorice followed by some black cherry with a very spicy back palate. Firmish solidly constructed tannins provide an excellent framework. Superb depth with very long black raspberry, liquorice and spice aftertaste.
Cellar 4-5 years (2016-2017)
Alc 14.0% Other Reviews….
boasts a deep ruby/purple color as well as abundant aromas of black raspberries, licorice and incense. Full-bodied, pure and deep, it is a definite overachiever for the appellation. It should drink well for 5-6 years.
Robert Parker – The Wine Advocate